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Course Objectives

During this course you will do the following:
  1. Learn to think theatrically, to write plays rather than scripts for film or television, or a narrative.
  2. Create a writer’s notebook.
  3. Write in correct play formatting.
  4. Discover how character objectives lead to action and conflict.
  5. Identify and write natural, believable dialogue.
  6. Understand dramatic structure.
  7. Create a writer’s map or scenario for each play.
  8. Write a first, second, and third draft for each ten-minute play.
  9. Read and respond to at least one other student’s ten-minute play and review comments made on your ten-minute play.
  10. Plan and carry out a reading of the second draft of both your ten-minute plays.
  11. Receive and apply feedback to new drafts of your plays and other writing exercises.
  12. Submit each ten-minute play for production or for a workshop to at least one place.

Course Learning Outcomes

Let’s begin the description of the course by comparing it to a man’s first fishing trip, which included an afternoon of empty hook dangling. The man wasn’t aware of the techniques of fishing, nor had he any sense of how to bait and sink a hook or of how to reel in a fish. There’s an analogy here with playwriting. We must learn how to hook an audience, capture their attention, then keep them engaged to the last line. We’ll begin with some exercises to prepare for writing two ten-minute plays.

This course includes two new features designed to enhance your writing experience. In lesson 11 you submit a draft of your ten-minute play to the discussion board. In lesson 12, on the discussion board you respond to at least one other student’s play, and in lesson 13 you review student responses to your play before you complete a second draft. This option allows you to communicate with other students in the course.

In order to make this course similar to an on-campus experience, you will have the opportunity to apply feedback to your first, second, and third drafts when writing both of your ten-minute plays. Learning to apply feedback to new drafts of your plays encourages you to experiment and stretch as a writer. Playwrights continue the re-writing process through the entire life of a play, sometimes even after it’s been published. Please note that the grade value of the third draft carries double the weight of the grade on your first draft. You must learn to receive feedback and to experiment with new possibilities as a writer.

The first challenge we’ll meet is the writing of a ten-minute play. Fortunately, we have help from Gary Garrison’s informative and witty text, Perfect 10: Writing and Producing the 10-Minute Play. Gary was recently appointed Executive Director of the Dramatist Guild of America. Lots of theatres produce ten-minute play festivals; mastering the form is a great way to learn dramatic structure and perhaps write a play that actually gets produced. A ten-minute play shouldn’t be that much of a challenge. However, to negotiate the curves, we’d best watch for the pitfalls.

Once you begin the course, try to work more or less continuously on the lessons until you complete the course. Students who submit many lessons in a short period in order to meet a deadline, or who leave large gaps between lessons, are not nearly as successful as those who work consistently, applying feedback from the instructor to each new lesson. Multiple lesson submissions will not be accepted. The course is designed to allow you to receive the feedback you need in order to proceed to the next lesson. Nor should you complete lessons out of order. The assignments are demanding, but you’ll receive lots of personalized feedback to guide you through the course. If you begin right away and work consistently through to the end, you’ll have plenty of time to complete the course within the allotted time, and you’ll maximize your growth.

Course Materials

Garrison, Gary. Perfect 10: Writing and Producing the 10-Minute Play. BYU Edition. Provo, Utah: Creative Works, 2007.

Please Note: This course uses the BYU EDITION of Perfect 10 and must be purchased through the BYU BOOKSTORE.

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You’ll complete reading assignments in the text and in this course manual. Sometimes you’ll follow up with a Self Check; these are self-corrected. Self Checks help you test your understanding of material you’re reading. They will not be graded, but it is highly recommended you complete them. The real assessment comes in the exercises, the writer’s map and scenario, and the drafts of the two ten-minute plays you write. Your final draft of both ten minute plays will serve as the final exam for this course.  You will have the opportunity to re-write both your ten-minute plays and receive feedback on all of the drafts. In Lesson 14, after you have completed the first draft of the second ten-minute play, you will have a face-to-face meeting via Google Hangouts, Skype, or another avenue with the instructor. A webcam is required for this meeting. This face-to-face meeting is to discuss the assignment and help you prepare the final version of your second ten-minute play. You must meet with the instructor face-to-face and get a 60% in the assignment to pass the course. Correct formatting, introduced in lesson 4, will account for 25% of your grade in any writing assignment you submit following lesson 4. Learn to use standard formatting in your work. Please do not use the formatting of the plays printed in the textbook, Perfect 10. Publishers use that formatting to reduce costs when printing plays in a book. You should learn and use the standard format as outlined in lesson 4.

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There are no exams for this course.

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Grading, because this is primarily a writing course, will be subjective. Actually, your instructor’s feedback becomes more important to you than the actual grade; but because this is a college course, grades are necessary. Your instructor will strive to evaluate your writing fairly and honestly.

This course consists of sixteen lessons, thirteen of which require submissions. Each lesson submitted receives a percentage and a letter grade. On any scene or play following lesson 4, 25% of your grade will be determined by correctness of formatting.

Your grade for this course will be determined based on the following criteria:

  1. Each of the first twelve assignments is worth 100 points.
  2. The final drafts of your ten-minute plays are worth 300 points, for a total of 1500 points.
  3. There is no final exam. Your plays serve as the exam for this course.

Due to the nature of the course, and the importance of learning to respond to feedback on your writing, you may not submit any more than one lesson at a time. Your instructor will respond to your assignments in a timely fashion. Plan your schedule so that you won’t feel rushed in completing the course.

Course Structure


Graded Assignment



Lesson 1

Short scene submitted


Self Check

Lesson 2




Lesson 3

Wordless scene submitted


Self Check

Lesson 4



Self Check

Lesson 5

Character profile/short scene submitted



Lesson 6

Dialogue scene submitted



Lesson 7

Ten play ideas submitted



Lesson 8

Hook and structure exercise submitted


Self Check

Lesson 9

Writer’s map of ten-minute play submitted



Lesson 10

Answers to questions submitted




Lesson 11

First draft of your ten-minute play submitted  and posted your play on the course discussion board




Self Check

Lesson 12

Writer’s map of second Ten-minute play submitted to peer’s play on Course Discussion Board



Lesson 13

Second draft of 1st ten-minute play submitted. Review instructor and peer comments


Self Check

Lesson 14

Meet with the instructor face-to-face and review the first draft of 2nd ten-minute play submitted.



Lesson 15




Lesson 16

Third drafts of both ten-minute plays submitted



Any assignment that you submit will receive a grade. The Self Checks will not be graded.

Total points for course are 1500; your grade will be based on the percentage of points you receive.

Grading Scale
A 93–100%
A- 90–92%
B+ 87–89%
B 83–86%
B- 80–82%
C+ 77–79%
C 73–76%
C- 70–72%
D+ 67–69%
D 63–66%
D- 60–62%
E 0–59%

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Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator@byu.edu or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at https://titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at http://titleix.byu.edu or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


Thirteen instructor-graded assignments, may be resubmitted once for a fee.

Resubmit an assignment for a fee.


There are no exams for this course.

Getting Help

Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor. You can find a list of free tutors available to BYU Independent Study students on the Free Tutoring Services website.

Note: The Harold B. Lee Library website provides a number of online resources and librarians are available via phone, chat, and email to answer questions about library-related issues.

Inappropriate Use of Course Content

All course materials (e.g., outlines, handouts, syllabi, exams, quizzes, media, lecture content, audio and video recordings, etc.) are proprietary. Students are prohibited from posting or selling any such course materials without the express written permission of BYU Independent Study. To do so is a violation of the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

© 2016 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

Published by the
Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
120 MORC
Provo, Utah 84602-1514